Life

From the Archives: Reasons and Excuses

This is a more recent post written after a long stretch of not blogging. It is sort of an examination of why that was and why it was wrong, all coming around to God’s work in the lives of His people.

Originally published: 12/1/16


If I were so inclined, I could produce a plethora of reasons (insert: “excuses”) as to why I haven’t written anything in the past few (ahem, five) months.

Fortunately for you, I am not so inclined.

I will, however, state one reason (do not insert “excuse” here): I haven’t had anything to write about.

I’m completely serious. The author wannabe hasn’t had a single thing to write about in nearly five months now. Not counting, of course, a few e-mails and texts and things of that nature. Though I will admit I am abominably slow at replying to such things. Oh, and homework. Who could forget a lovely thing like that?

But I haven’t had anything to say on here, on this blog. As you likely know, I usually write things like fiction, anecdotes from my real life, and ways that God’s been working on me.

Ah, ways that God’s been working on me. Such a lovely thing to ponder… Wait a minute. If I haven’t had anything to say on any of those topics for almost half a year, does that mean He’s just stopped? I’m no longer growing? I’ve finally reached that point of perfection so long sought after?

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by trying to convince you of that. No one’s perfect, believe it or not, and I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet to say you believe that.

So why the drought of words? If I haven’t become the epitome of all that is beautiful and pure in the world, why have I had nothing to say on the subject of anything lately? Has God given up on me? Is that it? He threw up His hands in disgust and left to work on some holier project?

Um, no.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that God hasn’t given up on me. If Jesus went all the way to the point of death on the cross for me while I was still as dead as a person can get in my sin, why would He stop molding me to His image now? The thing is, He wouldn’t.

So that brings me back to my original question. What happened to all the thoughts that I normally transform so eagerly into sentences to push out into the wide wide world to be read by people who aren’t me and my imaginary friends?

I’ll tell you what happened. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say. Nope. Just ask my sister, I’ve been talking probably more than ever since the July of my last post. And we’ve already determined that God hasn’t stopped working on me. Quite the contrary actually – He’s been growing me in ways that make me beyond grateful and that I didn’t see coming.

So are you ready for the answer then? The reason behind the lack of typed verbiage? There are two of them actually and here they are:

1. I didn’t think any of it was good enough to say.

2. I didn’t think I could do justice to what I did want to say.

Can we just take one second to laugh really hard at reason number 1? Seriously, go ahead. I have.

I’ll explain that moment of laughter. If I claim to be a Bible believing, born again Christian (and I do), shouldn’t I be growing in my faith every single day and not taking five month breaks? Yes, I should and yes, I have been. So if, like I’ve said, God has been working in me this whole time, isn’t that part of my testimony or witness or whatever word you want to use? Yes, of course it is. My testimony doesn’t end with salvation. That’s more like the beginning. Finally, if that growth is part of my testimony, how can it possibly not be good enough to say? Am I really criticizing God on how He’s been using me and growing me and telling Him it’s not good enough to post on the internet? Let’s take another laughing break, only this one should be in disbelief and with lots of head shaking.

But that’s what I’ve been thinking. “Wow, I love all this growth and learning new stuff, but I don’t think anyone else would want to read about it. So I’ll just go read some other blog written by some interesting person.” Really? First off, who cares if anyone wants to read it? My popularity (or lack thereof) in this life has absolutely nothing to do with who I am. Nothing. At all. Second, if God loves me as His daughter and is taking the care to grow me in a way that is special to me, He deserves praise and glory for that. Right? I mean really, am I right? Yes! So how dare I think that I don’t have anything good enough to say! If God’s working in me and through me, I should never run out of things to say, regardless of who reads them.

On to reason/excuse number 2.

I didn’t think I could do justice to what I did want to say. So, yes. there were a few things that I thought I’d like to write about and post, but I didn’t think I could say them well enough. I mean, I’m a teenager, still working on my writing, growing my fancy-schmancy vocabulary and learning how to make things interesting and fit together. How could I possibly say what God wants me to say in the way He wants me to say it? It simply can’t be done.

I am really hoping right now that you read that last paragraph in the most sarcastic voice your brain could supply. If you didn’t, please go back and try again. I’ll wait.

Am I ever going to be perfect? Nope. So am I ever going to be able to perfectly show what God’s doing in my life? Nope again. Well, if I can’t do it perfectly, then why bother?

Turns out, I’m supposed to bother because God told me to bother. If I don’t praise the Lord, the stones will. And who wants to lose in praising God to a bunch of rocks? Um, not me.

No, I can’t write everything perfectly, no matter how hard I try. And I probably can’t do it justice. But the point is that I try. I give my absolute best for God and quit acting like I have to be any good by my own strength before He can use me. Guess what. He can use me now. He could use this imperfect post I’m typing viciously away at however He feels like it. And who am I to stop using the words He’s given me because I don’t think they’re good enough? No one, that’s who.

So there you have it. That’s why I haven’t been writing. Because I’m a sinner who doesn’t want to praise God for what He does for me.

Well, that’s going to change. In fact, it already has. Look at this, I’m writing about what God showed me recently right this very second! I love my God and I want other people to love Him too. I want to be used by Him to show other people how great and amazing He is. I’m not going to do it perfectly, but I still want to do it. What could possibly be better than to have a testimony and a witness used by God in someone else’s life? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So maybe now you could go back to where I said not to insert “excuse” and go ahead and put it in there. Because there is no reason good enough to not give glory to God.

Kira

What has God been doing in your life lately? How have you given Him the glory for it?

Setting the Example in Self-Image

girl-1317084_1920

Countless articles promote the idea that you are beautiful just the way you are. “Be satisfied with the body God gave you.” “Love yourself.” “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

There are studies of the psychological benefits of being happy with yourself, statistics about how many people aren’t, and expositions on how to be content. But I believe they all miss a very important point: the effect your self-image has on other people.

A few days ago, my four year old sister was playing in my room and randomly started doing all the stretches and exercises she knew. I smiled at her pushups and the way she flicked her hair out of her face with a serious expression. But my smile disappeared when she told me that she was doing it so that she could have a “little tummy.”

This girl doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her body, but she decided that she needed to exercise so that she could look better. That her tummy wasn’t little enough. What on earth possessed her to think that?

There are, of course, the TV shows, toys, and ads to point to. She was born into a world that teaches her to look a certain way – to get there however she can.

But what about the people around her?

I would like to propose the idea that when you show contempt for your body and appearance, it has a real effect on those around you. How many times has my sister seen me look in the mirror and say it’ll have to do for the day? It’s obviously stuck with her.

The way we look at ourselves says a lot about who we are and other people pick up on that. When a girl that you think is especially pretty complains about the way she looks, your heart falls a bit. If she isn’t good enough, how could you ever be?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” It’s not encouraging to lead someone into discontent with how they look.

I’m especially speaking to those of us with younger siblings. Part of our job is to set the example for them in godliness. They do follow us, whether we realize it or not. They look up to us and want to be like us, and we must turn that to their benefit. It pained me to hear my sister talking about why she wanted to exercise. I don’t want her to think that way about herself. But that way of thinking is a direct reflection of the people she is around, including me.

How do you want your friends, siblings, peers to view themselves? Set an example in that, not in dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Encourage them and build them up by having a healthy view of yourself. They’ll catch on.

Kira

How do you lead people to see themselves in a godly way? What’s the hardest part about it?

Following Your Passion as a Teenager

backpack-1836594_1920

I, like any other person you talk to, have a passion. My passion is writing. One of my brothers has a passion for coding and other technical things I don’t understand. One of my sisters has a passion for music.

All three of us are teenagers. We follow our passions in the midst of teenage lives and I want to show you what that means.

Yes, everyone has a passion for something – children, adults, and teens alike. But I don’t know how to follow your passion as an adult, seeing as I am not one, nor have I ever been one. Also, I imagine not many children are on the internet, googling how to follow their passions. So let’s look at it from a teen’s perspective.

What is a passion?

A passion is something you love. What gives you a surge of joy when you think about it or satisfaction when you do it well? My sister can’t stop grinning when she leads worship without messing up any chords.

I also believe a passion is something that God gives to His children. He wants us to enjoy life in our own unique ways, so He gives us things that we especially enjoy over others. It is also something we use to glorify Him. He doesn’t want His children serving Him a certain way because they have to – He wants us to serve Him because we want to. So He gives us a passion for something that we can use to do just that.

School

School is often the most prominent aspect in the life of a teenager. I’m in the middle of high school and my classes take up a lot of time. Sometimes I hate that, but it’s where God has me, and, chances are, where He has you too.

In following your passion, it is crucial to work hard in school. Even though that guitar looks awfully enticing over there in the corner, your math homework needs proper attention. High school is meant to be preperation for college, where you can choose to study your passion for four or more years. No good thing comes from neglecting your schoolwork, so keep at it.

Health

Teens have the unrivaled advantage of youth. We are at a time in our lives where it’s relatively easy to be healthy. We have young bodies that are eager to give us energy and vitality in exchange for our taking care of them. So take care of yourself so that you can use that energy on your passion.

Spiritual and emotional health are also important. I don’t write very well if my heart isn’t taken care of. Spend time in your Bible and with other strong Christian friends. A social life can be good for you if it consists of the right people. We were created for community, so don’t hide in your room all the time, tinkering with your latest improvement to the light bulb.

Discipline

With school, soccer, piano, youth group, and who knows what else, teenagers have a lot of demands upon their time (though adults often laugh at the idea, it’s true). Following your passion is going to take discipline. You have to work hard at all of the other things in your life in order to even make time for what you want to do. And when you have that time, you must use it wisely. It is valuable and you are filling it with the pursuit of a desire God has given you. Don’t waste it.

Don’t give up!

Although it can be difficult to follow your passion as a teen, these are beautiful years that should be used for just such a thing. Even if it takes a lot of extra work on your part, invest in your passion. Do it to God’s glory and for His people. Pray that He will guide you and use you as you work.

Your passion isn’t just something to write about in a “what I did this summer” essay. It is something to cherish and nurture. Make it happen. Make it grow.

Kira

What’s your passion? How do you work to make it part of your life?

From the Archives: Conceal, Don’t Feel

The following post consistently held its position as one of my top five most popular posts ever since I originally published it. It was the first time I was this open and honest on my blog. Now presenting Conceal, Don’t Feel.

Originally published: 9/30/14


If you have ever heard the song from Frozen called “For the First Time in Forever” you might remember Elsa’s words in the moments before she is to be crowned Queen of Arendelle.

Don’t let them in

Don’t let them see

Be the good girl

You always have to be

Conceal

Don’t feel

Put on a show…

After I watched that movie for the first time, I honestly sang those words to myself over and over again – whenever something was wrong. I figured nobody wanted to hear my problems and I didn’t want to sound like I was complaining or end up boring people to death. But most of all, I didn’t want anyone to think I had any difficulties with life at all.

I recently went to a middle school retreat where the first Bible talk was exactly what I needed to hear. The theme that night was “Life as a Christian is hard.” The speaker first made this fact very clear, then went on to say that we often want our lives to look perfect to people outside of our immediate family or we want to make Christianity look appealing to nonbelievers and so we hide our problems. I realized this is me. Next, the pastor told us that it’s okay to admit we have problems and to talk about them with someone you trust. He repeated this note and assured us that it was in fact a good thing to do. That’s why God gave us friends. To share burdens – to be there for each other.

This hit me. Hard.

I had been hiding my problems for so long, trying to look good and be perfect to almost everyone I knew. It was wearing me down. I was on edge. I kept telling my sister that I had no one to talk to, when, really, I could have talked to her or plenty of other people. I was hiding it. Concealing. Not feeling. I made an actual effort to force my negative emotions down inside of me until they couldn’t show through any more to anyone outside my family.

Last November, my Grandpa died. It wasn’t easy on anyone. He died only a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, without any of us knowing whether or not he was a Christian. For months, I cried and scolded myself for this. I had had the perfect opportunity to testify for Jesus a few months before he died. And I hadn’t. I didn’t do it because I was scared. I didn’t want to be laughed at. I wanted to look perfect in a human’s eyes. So I continued to lose sleep over this until August. November to August I worried and prayed for him to be in heaven, but I was never sure he was. I never had any peace about it.

But at camp, in August, there was someone to talk to. I told her everything, tears pouring from my eyes. I hadn’t spoken about my Grandpa’s death to anyone since November. I had tried to avoid the subject entirely and got upset with my siblings when they talked about it. But, now, I was able to dump it all out. I drained those tears. I felt so much better. The lady I talked to pointed me to John 3:16, which may seem like a familiar verse and not really comforting, but it was.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Next, she told me to replace some of the words with my own name. Now it read:

For God so loved Kira that He gave His only begotten Son, that if Kira believes in Him she should not perish but have everlasting life.

That changed it a lot for me. It gave this often used verse a new meaning and it comforted me. Why? Because if God loved me enough to send His only Son to die for me, then He must have loved my Grandpa enough to die for him, too. And while I don’t know where my Grandpa is right now, I know that God gave him a choice too. God used who He wanted to use in my Grandpa’s life. And even if I didn’t outright say it, I hope that I lived for Jesus enough to make a difference for my Grandpa. I hope that he saw Christ through my actions – even if I wasn’t always perfect.

All that to say, after I talked about my Grandpa’s death for the first time in almost nine months, I felt much better. It was so much easier after I told someone what I was feeling. Now I feel much more at peace about it. It was doing me no good to try to “Conceal, Don’t feel.” It was only hurting me.

Now that I know that, hopefully it won’t be so hard to show people that I live a broken life in a broken world, just like everybody else. Hopefully it won’t be so hard to admit that I’m a sinner and that things hurt. It’s not easy to be a Christian. But sharing makes it easier.

Kira

When Failure Knocks You Down

boo-2399974_1920

What does the word “failure” mean to you? A big red “F” on a paper. Losing an important game. Letting your friend down. I bet you’ve already failed today. I bet you overslept, or snapped at someone, or didn’t meet a goal.

Maybe you failed to eat that healthy breakfast you had planned or forgot to water the garden before you left. Or maybe it was something bigger, like not getting a job you wanted or having yet another project proposal rejected with a polite “thank you, but no thank you.”

There are as many ways to fail as there are people to fail. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them haunt you for weeks, even years, and some are forgotten in a few moments. Either way, failure is an unpleasant feeling. No one enjoys messing up, whether on a large scale or small. No one wants to be unsuccessful in their goals. It’s no fun, and something we’d all rather be rid of. For good.

But what if we never failed at anything? Where would you be right now if you had got that job or won that race or kept your GPA perfect? How would your life be different? Would you know the same people, live in the same town, enjoy the same things?

Probably not. You wouldn’t even be the same person you are now if not for failure.

Failure forces us to try something else, something new. It’s God’s way of saying, “nope, try again.” And is that really such a bad thing?

Everyone tells you that you learn more from failure than from success and they’re right. Think about it – when you exercise, you do things to muscle failure. Until you can’t do it any more. And then you’re stronger the next time and you can push farther before you fail again. If you didn’t go all the way to muscle failure, you wouldn’t improve as quickly. You’d stay at the same level.

More significantly, without failure, we wouldn’t need Jesus. Let that sink in. If we never messed up, we wouldn’t need a Savior.

When I think about living without Jesus, it makes me sad. He has made my life a thousand and one times better than it was before. But if I had never failed at anything, I wouldn’t need Him to do that. Yet, I still think that life wouldn’t be as good as the one I’ve got now.

Failing doesn’t mean the end of the road. It means pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep walking. Maybe God doesn’t want you to have whatever you were trying to get. Or maybe it means He wants you to try a little harder, or He wants to build up your character some more before you get there.

Let’s stop thinking about failure in a negative way. When we don’t succeed, we’re not put back at square one. No, we’ve gained knowledge and wisdom that helps us try something else. And maybe we’ll fail at that, too, but what will we do? We’ll get up, dust ourselves off, and keep walking.

Kira